Even the brightest and most innovative teachers run into times when students’ motivation and focus seems to wane. This might happen after the holidays or in late spring as students look forward to the upcoming summer vacation. Students might also become fatigued after working on challenging projects or preparing for tests and exams. It’s important for teachers to recognize when this is happening and work at boosting the energy level in the classroom to keep students engaged and interested in what they are learning. These tips can help teachers keep students feeling excited and motivated when their attention starts lagging.
- Set up work stations. Some classrooms already have these, but those that do not can take advantage of the fact that they offer a change of pace. When students seem bored or unfocused, setting up work stations around the classroom can help. These work stations can include different activities for students to do at different times, such as one for reading, one for math, one for art and one for science, for example. Instead of spending much of the day sitting at their desks, students are encouraged to move around the classroom and engage in different activities.
- Use the element of surprise. Students can grow tired of going through the same monotonous routine day after day. Incorporating the element of surprise in the classroom can help liven up the learning environment and keep students interested. Teachers can do this in a number of ways, such as having class outdoors when the weather is nice or bringing in props that are related to the current material being taught in the classroom. Making a sudden and unexpected change to the learning environment can give students a mental energy boost that helps them stay focused.
- Play games. Certain types of classroom games can help energize students and spark a renewed interest in learning. For example, teachers can ask students to come up with a list of words that are relevant to the material they’re currently studying. These words can then be turned into a crossword puzzle or word search puzzle that students can do. Guessing games can also help students feel excited about learning. Teachers can simply ask students to generate theories about why something occurs or ask them to make predictions about what might happen, such as what happens if you drop two objects with different weights at the same time. These games get students thinking about what they’re learning.
- Show a video clip. Having students watch a brief informative clip that introduces a concept that they will be learning can capture their attention. Showing a news story about relevant material can also get students engaged in their lessons. Having a discussion about these video clips or news stories is another way to promote an interest in learning material when students seem to be having trouble staying focused.
- Get creative. Have students work on creative projects to explain or illustrate important material that they’ve learned. This could mean having students write a short story on the subject or create a work of art that is relevant to the chosen topic. This provides students with a way to apply their knowledge in an unusual way, which encourages them to think about it more.
Teachers should remember to not take it personally if students seem to be lacking energy. This is a common occurrence in classrooms when students become too accustomed to following a routine. Making some changes is an easy yet effective way to overcome this kind of fatigue and get students excited about learning again.